Lane Ketler was sitting at his desk Monday afternoon when he glanced out the window and spotted 40-foot flames and smoke not far from his business.
“It was kind of a scary thing,” said Ketler, owner of Action Metals. “I looked out and there was a 40-foot flame across the creek.”
The fire, fanned by high winds, quickly jumped Mill Creek and headed right toward the Action Metals fuel shed, storage for shop equipment, a 10,000 litre diesel tank and approximately 500 litres of gasoline.
Soon after spotting the smoke and flames, Ketler shut down the yard and half of the 22 staff members began hosing down the area around the concrete and metal fuel shed, while the other half began moving items and pulling dry debris from the area.
They also focused on dousing the trees on an adjoining property while worrying about the flames catching the trees that bordered their business’ south border.
Fire crews soon joined Action Metals staff in fighting the flames, having been called around 2:20 p.m. Monday about a refuse fire that had spread into the grass at the end of Fenwick Road, behind Scandia.
Winds, reported by Environment Canada to be gusting at up to 57 km/hour that afternoon, caused the flames to quickly move north alongside the rail line to the industrial area where Action Metals is located.
“I think in the end, it was just under a kilometre long,” said assistant fire chief Jason Brolund.
The challenge with the wind gusts prompted fire officials to call in the B.C. Forest Service early and a helicopter made seven bucket drops on the flames, enabling ground crews to gain control of the fire. “Those types of resources, especially this time of year, are hard to get,” said Brolund.
He also was grateful for the efforts of Action Metals to protect their property, calling them “really well prepared” for dealing with such an incident. Firefighting crews were back in the area Tuesday to try and determine a point of origin for the fire in an effort to find its cause.